Is Travel Worth It? by Rachel-Ruth Lotz Wright
Thinking back to when I was in high school gives me the cold sweats. But if I think past the memory of not having anyone to sit with at lunch or walk with in the halls, and if I never mind the panicked feeling I got taking a math test or being called to the front of class to do a word problem on the board, I am able to remember and focus on God’s mercy amidst my afflictions. God is merciful. And His mercy for me came in the form of international travel.
My mom received numerous international invitations to speak with her ministry while I was growing up. As the invitations came flooding in and as she saw the misery of my high school experience, she decided to take me with her on many of her trips. My mom and I joke that the only useful education she and I truly benefited from in high school was typing! What really made the impact on my life were the trips I took with her.
Our first trip was underway as we boarded a plane headed to the beautiful country of Spain! I’ll never forget the excitement I felt as we landed and climbed into the car of the person assigned to pick us up. As a high schooler I zoned out of the small talk between the host driver and my mom as I stared out of the back seat window. My eyes drank in the fields of red poppies, the tiny cars, the narrow streets, the people, and even the stop lights. The grandeur of it all seemed so foreign and exciting.
My love for traveling started on that very trip! I even remember the sound of birds echoing off the stones of ancient city walls, almost an accent all to itself. I was amazed at how different everything was, from the culture to the high pitched sound of car horns, to the light switches and outlets, to even the way the toilets flushed! The people were gracious, enthusiastic, and welcoming. It was all new, exciting and opened up the whole world to me—a world that I began to love for Jesus’ sake.
Highlights from other trips included having my picture drawn at dusk on Montmartre in Paris and smacking a man who walked by for pinching my bottom. In Switzerland, my mom, sister and I hiked for eight hours down the Jungfrau—with new hiking boots. Blisters galore! In South Africa I took a stomach dropping helicopter ride across Table Mountain. I rode an open-air Jeep on a safari late at night and ended up surrounded by a pride of lions!
Traveling is where so many of my memories are centered; it has fired up all of my senses as it links memories to smells and sights and sounds. In the past it helped me escape from my hard high school life while it opened up a new world full of possibilities. But the greatest benefit of traveling is how it revealed God’s love for the whole world to me.
It’s not just the beauty of His spectacular, magnificent creation, but it was His work through His followers in every language and in every country that made a profound, life-long impact on me! It didn’t matter if they spoke Spanish, French, German, Swiss, or Afrikaans, I saw their love for the Lord on their faces as they greeted people at the door, worshiped, sang familiar hymns but in a different language, as their tears flowed listening to my mom speak, as they prayed together and loved each other.
It showed me that no matter where we go on this earth, God is there! He loves and woos to Himself people from all walks of life, in every language, in every culture.
God began to deepen my heart for international ministry while on our trip to South Africa. I fell in love with the country, the landscape, and especially the people. I asked God to please bring me back to Africa. He heard my prayer and brought me back two years later after the genocide in Rwanda. I went with Samaritan’s Purse to work at an orphanage. It was a faith-stretching, heart-enlarging experience which was worth every minute.
I am now a mother, so it’s my turn. This summer, I’m taking my girls on an unforgettable trip. To Israel! They will sail in a boat on Galilee and walk the streets of the old city of Jerusalem. I pray God uses it to open their eyes, as He did mine, to His great heart of love for the world.